Israel’s rival politicians have formed a new government to oust Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader.
After four parliamentary elections in two years, opposition leader Yair Lapid, a former television news presenter, has formed a coalition with Naftali Bennett, a former settler leader and right-wing religious nationalist who has called for annexation. of most of the occupied West Bank.
On Sunday, the Knesset voted between 60 and 59 to approve the new coalition government, ending Netanyahu’s 12-year rule as prime minister.
Currently on trial for corruption, Netanyahu was Israel’s most right-wing prime minister to date and the first politician of Israeli descent to become a leader.
The son of a “revisionist Zionist” from Poland, Netanyahu traces some of his roots to Spain.
Born in Jaffa in 1949, Netanyahu grew up in Jerusalem and went to high school in the United States.
His mother, Tzila Segal, was an Israeli Jew and his father, Benzion Netanyahu, was a lay Jew from Poland.
His father changed his name from Benzion Mileikowsky to Benzion Netanyahu after settling in Palestine.
Netanyahu’s father was one of the original revisionist Zionists who believed that Israel should exist on both sides of the Jordan River, rejecting commitments to neighboring Arab states.
In 1967, Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Israeli army and soon became an elite commando and served as a captain during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
He rises to power
In 1982, Netanyahu was appointed deputy director of mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington. In 1984 he was appointed Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations.
In 1988, Netanyahu was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister in the cabinet of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Ascending to the post of right-wing president of the Likud party in 1993, Netanyahu orchestrated the party’s return to political power after its defeat in the 1992 elections.
He held various positions under the Israeli Foreign Ministry until winning the 1996 elections. His first stint as prime minister lasted until 1999. Later, he also emerged victorious in the 2009, 2013 and 2009 polls. 2015.
Netanyahu lost Likud’s leadership to Ariel Sharon, but regained it after he left Likud to form the Kadima party in 2005.
For critics like Yuval Diskin, the former head of Israel’s national intelligence organization, Netanyahu has an inflated sense of law.
Diskin once said, “In my game within Netanyahu, in my opinion, there is a mixture of ideology, a deep sense that he is a prince of a‘ royal family ’of Jerusalem’s elite, alongside insecurity and a deep fear of taking responsibility. “
For supporters, he is a strong spokesman for Israel, willing to tell the public uncomfortable truths and able to stand up to enemies.
Netanyahu had a “three-knot” mantra: no Palestinian state, no return of the Golan Heights to Syria, and no discussion about the future status of Jerusalem.
Despite opposing most peace agreements with the Palestinians, Netanyahu signed the Wye River agreements in 1998 with Yasser Arafat, then president of the Palestinian National Authority.
His resignation in August 2005 as Foreign Minister protested against Sharon’s plan to secede from Gaza, part of Palestinian territory.
Status of Jerusalem
Netanyahu was firm in continuing the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands.
“We will continue to build in Jerusalem and all the places that are on the map of Israel’s strategic interests,” Netanyahu said.
Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president in 2016 was well received by Netanyahu.
Arriving after eight years of U.S.-Israel relations with Barack Obama in the White House, a Trump-Netanyahu meeting in Washington, DC, in early 2017 aimed to signal a “re-establishment” of relations between the two parts.
Later that year, Trump broke decades of American politics and announced that the U.S. would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving its embassy to the city.
Netanyahu welcomed the decision and said it was “a historic day” for Israel.
A delay in Joe Biden’s first phone call to Netanyahu after taking office sparked speculation that the U.S. president was upset by Netanyahu’s close ties to Trump.
But the 11-day Israeli attack on Gaza brought the two leaders together, as Biden showed strong support for Netanyahu and his policies during Israel’s latest bombing campaign on the besieged enclave. kill more than 250 Palestinians, including at least 66 children.
During his first stint as prime minister, Netanyahu told the U.S. Congress that “time is running out” to deal with Iran.
“The deadline to achieve that goal is very close,” he said.
Netanyahu has said Iran posed an “existential threat” to Israel and has threatened unilateral military action against Iran on several occasions.
“As long as I am prime minister, Iran will not have an atomic bomb,” he said in 2013. “If there is no other way, Israel is willing to act. [with force]”.
Netanyahu was indicted in 2019 in long-running cases related to gifts from millionaire friends and for allegedly seeking regulatory favors from media moguls in exchange for favorable coverage.
Accusations against him have been a central issue during the country’s recent elections. Netanyahu has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty while the trial continues.
Netanyahu, who turned Israel’s leading vaccine launch into a showcase for his campaign in the country’s fourth national poll in two years, has claimed victory over COVID-19 by turning Israel into a “vaccination nation.”
About half of the population has been inoculated at a rate that has attracted international praise from Netanyahu, but also calls on Israel to do more to ensure that Palestinians in the occupying territories receive vaccines.
Political opponents have said he mistreated the pandemic from the start, pointing to the need for three national closures and accusing it of turning a blind eye to violators of the ultra-Orthodox community that provides a power base to its key coalition partners. .